Monday, 23 March 2015

Real life harm reduction--Jade's story

Meet Jade. She was a firm believer in a woman's right to chose, and had strongly positive feelings about abortion as a means of dealing with certain life challenges. Nevertheless, finding herself unexpectedly pregnant, she came into a crisis pregnancy centre, Hope for Women* in Abbotsford B.C. (, wondering what her options were, but truly believing that only one option was viable--abortion. What happened after that didn't just reduce harm--it magnified good.

Jade in her own words:

Jade was astonished, and deeply troubled, to learn that she was pregnant. It simply didn't fit with her plans, with her relationships, with her self-image, with her life.

How did Jade see herself as being in harm's way?
  • Self-esteem: "I thought that I was the only one going through this. I thought that I was a horrible person for getting pregnant."
  • Relationships: "[I thought] that my relationship (i.e., with her boyfriend, the father of the pre-born child) was going to fall through, and that my parents were disappointed with me.
  • School and career: "I thought that [going to university to study criminology and become a police officer) was not going to be possible."
  • Plans for her life: "[I thought] that my life was over...if I kept it (i.e., the child)."
Looking back, Jade concluded that had she not been made aware of other options resulting from her visit to Hope for Women, she would have definitely procured an abortion.

What changed? Why did Jade decide that hers was not the way of harmful results after all?

First, her misconceptions and lack of knowledge about fetal development:
  • Before: "I remember always thinking that if I got an abortion early in my pregnancy, it wouldn't matter because I didn't consider them a baby." [Note: The standard line among those who urge the procurement of abortions is that in the early weeks and months of fetal development, there is no baby present but merely a clump of cells.]
  • After: "By the time I went to Hope for Women, my baby had a heartbeat, and there's no denying that's a baby, that's a living thing with a heartbeat. I didn't know that." 
Second, her personal values:
  • Before: "This is coming from someone who was very pro-abortion."
  • After: "I knew deep down inside, after talking to [my counselor, Elizabeth, at Hope for Women], that I didn't want an abortion even though my whole life I thought I would."
Third, her experience of pregnancy and viewing an ultrasound:
  • "When you feel the first kick, when you see their face on the ultrasound for the first time, it really changes your perspective.
 Fourth, her relationships:
  • "Her daddy, my fiance, is loving every second of it. My parents are so excited to be grandparents."
Fifth, her future:
  • I'm planning to go back to school, which I thought was not going to be possible after becoming pregnant. Pregnancy is not the end of me; it is the beginning of a new chapter. Pregnancy is not a death sentence."
From thinking that she was seriously in harm's way, with her future in tatters if she did not abort, Jade came to this conclusion: "I decided to keep the baby. It was the best decision I ever made."

Jade's story has that fairy-tale quality to it--all her fears were overcome, everything she thought would go wrong went right instead, and she can't imagine life without her beautiful baby girl.

But it does not go this way for everyone. Other women and girls in crisis pregnancies have much different experiences. I will finally get around to looking at various agencies who deal with the Jades of this world, and look at the many ways in which standing in the way of harm has made a difference. 

*Full disclosure: I am a member of the board of Advokate Education and Life Services (, a non-profit society in Abbotsford BC that runs Hope for Women Pregnancy Services.

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